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9 Things Your Body Odor Reveals About Your Health

Body odor can be a sign of more than you simply forgetting to swipe on deodorant.


If you smell fishy…

…you might have a metabolic disorder call trimethylaminuria. This means the body is unable to break down certain compounds found in some protein-rich foods; a fishy odor is released in the sweat, urine, and breath after eating fish, eggs, and some vegetables and legumes. This is what your sweat reveals about your health.

If you smell like poop…

…you could be extremely constipated. When your digestion is severely impaired, smelly chemicals are produced in the gut that eventually cause stinky bowel movements when you do finally go; these same compounds can also seep out in your sweat, making you smell a bit like a septic tank.


If you smell and excessively sweat for no reason…

…you could have hyperhidrosis. This condition causes excessive and unpredictable sweating outside the normal reasons like exercise or warm temperatures. If you notice an odor after sweating in the cold or when you’re not moving, talk to your doctor. These are sneaky reasons that your body odor is worse than usual.


If you smell bitter…

…you could be suffering from liver damage. Although more common symptoms of liver damage are digestive problems, nausea, and internal markers like abnormal fat metabolism, external signs like a bitter and offensive odor can also be present.


If you smell after a hot flash…

…you could be pregnant or going through menopause. Both cause hormonal changes that can change your body’s thermostat, making you feel extra hot out of nowhere and triggering your natural cooling response, which is sweating. Pregnancy also sends your sweat glands into overdrive and blood flow increases everywhere in your body, including to your armpits. These foods could secretly be giving you body odor.


If you smell like rotten eggs…

…you might be eating too much red meat. Too much meat (particularly red) plus an inability to digest it well can lead to a sulfurous odor, which smells like rotten eggs, caused by the sulfur-containing amino acids it contains. One small study found that women rated men’s body odors as more attractive, pleasant, and less intense when they ate no meat for two weeks compared to when they consumed red meat, according to the University of California Berkeley.


If you smell mild…

…you’re getting older. In a study from Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, volunteers thought body odor from an old age group smelled less unpleasant and less intense than odor samples from a younger age group (and not at all like mothballs). Watch out for these silent signs that your body might be in big trouble.


If you smell like a bar…

…you probably drank too much the night before. When you consume large amounts of alcohol, excess that the liver can’t metabolize can be released into your sweat and out through your pores, making you smell exactly like what you just drank. This is what your bad breath reveals about your health.

Alyssa Jung
Alyssa Jung is a writer and editor with extensive experience creating health and wellness content that resonates with readers. She freelanced for local publications in Upstate New York and spent three years as a newspaper reporter before moving to New York City to pursue a career in magazines. She is currently Senior Associate Editor at Prevention magazine and a contributor to Previously she worked at Reader's Digest as an editor, writer, and health fact checker.